Member recruitment and retention are central to professional membership organizations. For these organizations to continue to offer essential resources such as education, support, and career guidance, among other benefits, they must understand what their members value and also why they leave.

Win/Loss Analysis is a valuable tool used to understand why a prospect may choose or not choose a vendor during the sales cycle. While such analysis is typically geared more toward the corporate business landscape, the benefit of applying the practice to associations cannot be overstated. Every organization should be participating in a Win/Loss program.

Why? To:

  • Understand why some members stay and some members leave
  • Gather insights, data, and actionable information to inform leadership and decision making
  • Give members and former members an opportunity to provide feedback and stay engaged
  • Understand what members want and value from the beginning stages of the relationship to better serve them throughout the membership lifecycle  

Once you’ve determined Win/Loss is worth you time (hint: it is), what’s next?

Plan and document your approach for both Wins and Losses. Every organization (and its membership) is different, so tailor accordingly. For example, as illustrated in our Member Engagement Study, Boomers have different communication preferences than Millennials. Examine your membership, and decide what will be the most effective way to garner participation. Also, make it easy on yourself. Create templates for email correspondence, as well as for interviews and surveys.

For Wins, one approach is to send out a brief survey to all new members as part of onboarding. You may want to include questions such as, “Why did you choose our organization?” And, “What do you hope to get out of your membership?” You can ask about long-term career goals or how they found out about your organization.

There are many, many options, but most importantly 1) pinpoint what you want to find out, and design the question in a way to determine the answer, and 2) document your findings, look for patterns, and share your insights with stakeholders. To encourage participation, you can also incentivize their feedback with a promotion or discount. And remember, the feedback gathered can be used as a benchmark and touchpoint for future communication.

For Losses or members who do not renew, I propose a two-pronged approach qualitative and quantitative. Some members will value a brief, over-the-phone or in-person chat or what I refer to as qualitative. Create a template and use it as a guide for your conversation, with the understanding that you may not cover all the bases, such is the nature of communication, but it will enable you to avoid missing any critical areas. Let the member know that their feedback impacts the organization’s continued improvement and success, while also helping you better serve your members. As always, document their responses.

Some former members may not be open to a phone call. (Looking at you, Millennials). In this case, design a survey and simply email it out, and again, incentivize. A Starbucks or Amazon gift card can go a long way. You can ask questions such as, “What are the top three benefits you look to your association to offer?” “Where did we fall short?” “How did our pricing compare to similar organizations?” Use a mixture of multiple choice and fill-in responses, and again, gather the data, look for patterns, and share with stakeholders.

The idea is to learn as much about your members as you can, while also pinpointing your organization’s strengths and weaknesses. The analysis can then be utilized to inform marketing materials, continuing education programs, pricing, packaging, and most impactful benefits to recruit and retain members and sustain your organization.

For more information on aligning organization strategy with what matters most to members, download our Member Engagement Study.